Friday, April 30, 2010

Samantha Bennett for Two Days!

It's Friday! and I get to spend today watching and observing Samantha Bennett coaching two of my friends, Katie and Karen with the writing and reading workshop. I am really excited for the conversations that will occur today and again tomorrow. Tomorrow we get to have Samantha guide us for the day with more of a lecture setting. It's a great way to spend a couple of days and I always feel renewed and filled with ideas after spending time with my old and new friends to be with The Literacy Connection. Here's a link to my first post about my own workshop thinking as I read That Workshop Book.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Let's pretend we physically bump into each other today and we celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day. You'd pull out your poem and share with me, we would chit chat a bit and then I would share mine with you.

Confessions of a Reader

Almost spring
A spider
Stakes a claim
On a corner
Of the eight-foot window
In our living room.

Each morning
I admire
Taut guidelines
Carefully placed spokes.
Dancing gown threads,
Architecture unrivalled.

My mother
Would not tolerate
Such slovenly housekeeping.
She would get a broom
And knock down
This errant squatter's palace.

I do not.

I am waiting for Charlotte
To leave a message.
Carol Wilcox

My first instinct would probably be like the mother's to knock down the spider web, it's in the house. However, I do enjoy watching and observing a web outside. I just find it a lovely thought as a reader to wait for Charlotte to leave a message, what would Charlotte say to you or I friend?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I haven't abandoned my sharing through this blog, I just needed to take a smidge of time off. Four weeks ago I had hernia surgery and spent three weeks home recovering. I was able to blog a bit and keep afloat. While I was off, I was thinking one day about the one little word I chose for the year and I honestly couldn't remember right away. My one little word was intended to help guide my actions and thinking for 2010. It came to me with a little bit of time and now I think it might have been some foreshadowing. Nurture is my one little word for 2010 and has become quite the focus within the past month.

I've nurtured my own healing with lots of rest and limited activity. I nurtured my own personal reading while at home and that was a lot of fun. I was able to spend time differently with my girls and I loved the little things we could do together. I had to let others nurture me and felt so blessed for all the good wishes and help we received. I went back to the classroom last week and found I needed to nurture my little friends and keep nurturing myself with plenty of rest at night. I am still surprised how tired I can get but know this is part of the process. A brown box arrived yesterday in the mail, filled with new book titles to explore and I have a few bags of books waiting for us too. I'm ready to nurture my professional growth and sharing more. Thank you for stopping by and stay tuned.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poetry Friday - Spring

Bright spots in my day.

Just make me want to play.

Copyright Mandy Robek 2010
Mary Lee over at A Year of Reading just keeps on inpiring us with her poem a day for National Poetry Month. While I've had the time at home it's been refreshing to observe all the changes spring brings to the midwest. I am blessed to have some time to recover and slow down so these observances aren't daily blurs.
This weeks Poetry Friday is being held at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Birthday Cake and Place Value

Yesterday was my birthday. My birthday cake needed candles and my husband was making due with the random numbers we have collected over the years which made the numbers for my special day higher than needed. B, my youngest did not like this at all and decided to take over in preparing my cake. We didn't have the number two, so using her current place value learning she solved the solution and my cake was perfect!

Since I am home recovering from surgery, I decided to make it myself this year from Cooking Light. This is a Glazed Lemon Buttermilk Cake and it was delicious! Served it with rainbow sherbet and it was a sunny, spring treat. It reminded me of the Bundt cake in a box I use to make as a kid with my mom.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - ABCs Naturally

With all the things springing up in nature here in the midwest, I was reminded of a fabulous ABC book we have on our shelves for the young and old. ABCs Naturally, A Child's Guide To The Alphabet Through Nature by Lynne Smith Diebel and Jann Faust Kalscheur is a photo essay. The authors became alphabet hunters after a five year old showed his brother and mother an open calm shell looked like the letter B. Here's the premise for this book.
Each letter is photographed in nature and the 4 x 6 photo is on the right hand side of the page. The left hand side has a larger gray letter with a description of the photo typed in black on top. Here's the text for the letter B which accompanies a photo of a partial lily pad.

Do you see the lily pad
Floating quietly?
It doubles as a boat for bugs
And a bright green letter
There's much more to this alphabet book. After the 26 letters of the alphabet, there is a Facts and Folklore section which provides information about the object photographed for each letter. It might include how animals and people would use the nature object and it provides a bit of history for some objects. Next, the reader can learn about becoming an alphabet hunter and read about collecting your own alphabet. This could be a fun summer project for a family. This could be a great mentor text for your own classroom or school alphabet hunting. Older students could really conduct some interesting research for a Facts and Folklore page.

Nonfiction Monday is being held today at Shelf-Employed, think about stopping by.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Poetry Friday - Pairs and Clusters

Pairs and Clusters
On the ground.

Pairs and Clusters
All around.

Pairs and Clusters
Soar the sky.

Pairs and Clusters
Keep stopping by.

By Mandy Robek Copyright 2010

Mary Lee over at A Year of Reading is writing a poem a day to celebrate National Poetry Month and inspired me to join in the fun. I've been sitting home for just over a week recovering from a small surgery and one thing I have enjoyed watching are the birds as they enjoy spring in our backyard. When I couldn't sleep one night this week, this came to my mind. Enjoy.

This week Poetry Friday is being held at Paper Tigers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Money By All Means

I've seen Money by All Means by Jane Crawford for quite some time and it comes from one of my favorite publishers, Math Solutions but I didn't even look at it because it is written for grades first to second. I am writing today to caution everyone from making that same mistake, not looking at a great resource because it was written and intended for a grade level you may not be teaching. I have been working on a coin unit with my kindergartners and found several things that would fit my standards and goals for teaching.

The introduction provided some solid information that helped my understand the process children go through in understanding coin concepts. It also provided some helpful tips for implementation and organization. I think the first whole class lesson, Pennies in the Bank has potential in my classroom. The next whole class lesson, Coins and Magnifiers can be adapted to fit our room by looking at one type of coin each day and doing a shared writing. From the menu activity section I just loved the Matching Game and can use it as a Family Math activity to guide support from home. Scoops of Coins was similar to something I had done with sorting our coins but provided another step for recording our learning I think I can adapt.

There are many more activities that are geared for a first and second grade classroom but I would also caution third grade teachers to look at this resource for some reteaching ideas to help students who may continue to struggle with money concepts. I'm sure you can find either a whole class lesson, menu activity, or a literature idea to use.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Runaway Dolls

The Runaway Dolls is the third in a trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin. The first book, The Doll People was probably the only book I consistently read each year with my third graders. I just absolutely love the premise of these books. The Doll Family is an antique doll family that has been in the Palmer family for years and years. They are over one hundred years old, made out of china, and the entire family is quite conservative. The Funcraft Family is made out of plastic, they are adventurous and take lots of risks. Each book has an adventure that leads the Doll Family to the adventurous side.

In The Runaway Dolls the Palmer family is going on a two week vacation giving the dolls the freedom they so love all day long. As long as no one is home, they are allowed to roam about their home, or out of their home as is the case for the Funcraft Family and they essentially come to life. A package has been delivered to the house with the return address of the toyshop in London, a hundred years old. Annabell Doll and Tiffany Funcraft are determined to solve the mystery of the contents. They discover, against their parent's wishes that Tilly May the long lost baby sister for the Doll Family has been sent after all this time. The dolls are constantly struggling with being alive and not letting the humans know. If the humans ever see the dolls in action or notice a change that isn't explainable the dolls can be put in Doll State. That is twenty-four hours of being frozen. Then if the dolls are to risk the entire oath the dolls take when they are made, there is the chance of permanent doll state.

This book is packed with adventure and mystery. Annabell and Tiffany decide to runaway with Tilly May so they can keep her a secret and Annabell can have her original little sister. They hitch a ride in the neighbor's wagon. They fall out and are stranded in the woods, to survive a dangerous night. Luckily, their brothers Bailey and Bobby were spying on them and are now on the adventure to help. Their help doesn't get them far but in an attempt to get home they end up seeking safety in a department store and become part of the toy department. The toy department comes alive at night and they their adventures continue until they realize they need to return home before the Palmers. This book weaves components of the other two stories so you could pick it up and read it alone but if you enjoy reading a series I would recommend reading them in order; The Doll People, The Meanest Doll in the World, and The Runaway Dolls.
Fantasy is not my first choice of genre to read and these books seem to help readers, students and adults take the push they might need. I've also found these books to be very successful with boys and girls.

Brian Selznick has illustrated each book with his wonderful pencil media. However, in this book I feel there is a change in his work. The story begins with several pages of illustrations that help provide the history behind the package arriving to the Palmer house. I think he intentionally does a bit more of his graphic novel work within this one.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo and Diane Dillon is a nonfiction book, celebrating great jazz musicians. It's in a picture book format with large paintings and a sentence of text per page. The book begins with a group of musicians gathering, setting up and preparing for a performance. The book begins with an introduction and the authors/illustrators include this collection of artist never played entirely together but their paths did cross and they most likely played together on and off. The text not only shares famous musicians and what their instruments were, it includes elements of jazz informing the reader more about this genre of music.

The back two pages give the reader a more in depth biographical sketch of each musician. In this book the reader is introduced to Miles Davis, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Stanley Clarke and Ella Fitzgerald. The best part of the book, I found at the library was the inclusion of a CD with jazz music for the reader to listen to. I know my students will love to move to the beat and get a really good feel for jazz. I found this book in a search for introducing various forms of nonfiction text to kindergarten students. I love it even more with the emphasis on music, we need to do more with this language.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - The COIN Counting Book

My students are suppose to identify and state the value for a penny, nickel, and a dime. I struggle with these learning targets, personally. There is often confusion because the quarter is familiar or somewhat known to them. They need to see this to help clarify these confusions. I also struggle with these learning targets because there is no purpose or meaning to learn these basic skills that are essential. I understand it's a beginning step but I think we need to go further to promote and develop understandings.

I recently found, The COIN Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams to help me with my struggles. This book shows the reader money in symbolic, written, and numeric form. This book shows the reader coin relationships through equivalency. This book shows the reader fast ways to count using another math skill, skip counting. This book shows coin trading and coin counting. From a complete literacy lens, this book uses poetic form to tell the text. That is delightful. A great book for any primary classroom.
Nonfiction Monday is being held today at Lerner Books Blog, enjoy.